October 03, 2021

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Model Encouragement

Encouragement is such an important part of my job as an art educator.  Though you have to give students honest feedback to help them to grow/improve....you must be careful to do it in a way that will not cause them to become discouraged.  Discouragement is often the reason people stop pursing artistic endeavors (visual, music, writing, and performing). There are times that this can be challenging.  We don't want to lie. We don't want to overly inflate elements of the work that truly need greater attention and exploration.  The encouragement needs to be directed toward the artist. 

 "I really like the ideas you're sharing through your work." 
"Your perspective is unique and special."
"I love the effort I see you are putting into that project."
"You are making interesting choices."

Your goal is to build up the artist.  When they feel valued, encouraged, and cared about you are able to address the parts of their work that needs extra attention, without discouraging them.  It does no good to tear down an artist to the point that they feel they are no longer unable to to improve upon their work or doubt their skills.  The goal is to impower students to create & improve upon their creations.  

A beautiful side effect to actively encourage the artists in my classroom is having students begin speaking words of encouragement to their peers.  They may mention something about their work, but often it is directed toward the artist and their efforts & ideas.  Though many are natural encouragers, modeling this behavior to our students will build a foundation of encouragement in their lives. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

EVERYONE is in need of encouragement. It seems to have become a lost "art".  Words of affirmation, admiration, and appreciation are greatly lacking. This is not only in "the world", but within the church and amongst believers.  Our world has become obsessed with negativity. Spewing hate, hurling insults, and divisiveness creates a toxic environment where no one wins. People feel more disconnected, dissatisfied, and disenchanted. Growth & progress are hard to come by in such an environment.  Love, kindness, connection, and encouragement are needed so desperately.  

As believers, we must live differently. We have been called to be & do not as the "world".  We need to look at situations & individuals through the eyes of Christ. Our response should be one of love & compassion.  Encouragement should flow from the core of who we are because what the Lord has done for us.  If we do not see it happening in our own life, we must make a conceited effort to make it happen. If we do not see it in the lives of those around us...we need to model encouragement to others through a genuine heart for the people God has placed around us.  If we don't "feel" it, ask God to give you a deeper appreciation for those around you.  Ask him to let you see their gifts, talents, and skills, and their past, present, and potential impact.  As we become more purposeful about encouraging others...the behavior will become a habit.  This habit will be noticed and begin impacting those around you. Can you image your circle of friends/family/coworkers all encouraging and appreciating those around them. How would that impact individuals, groups, and communities? 

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